Does Wine Actually Smell Like Tennis Balls?

Flavor descriptions for wines can often seem try-hard or just weird. Does anyone actually know what Sri Lankan star fruit tastes like? Or what’s the difference between crushed rocks and wet rocks? Other times they can be so broad that it's just a useless adjective such as, ‘red fruit’ or ‘spices’ - there’s a lot of room for interpretation with those. 

Here’s our rundown of more useful but also specific flavor descriptions than “the cobblestones of Paris on a rainy evening in July”– shut up, Claude. 

Disclaimer: These are general descriptions. Wine people– don’t get angry, it's just a starting point. 

Chardonnay from California: 

Vanilla bean and the butter they pump over popcorn at the movie theater.

Sauvignon blanc & Sancerre: 

Chives, lime zest, tart grapefruit juice and sometimes those pickled jalapeños you find at the deli. 


Cigar smoke and Big Red gum.  

California Cabernet:

Chocolate fudge and dates.

White Burgundy:

Tart granny smith apple and crème brûlée.

Cabernet Franc:

Roasted red peppers and burning incense. 

Red Burgundy:

Opening a bag of potting soil and really fresh strawberries.  


Black liquorice and button mushrooms. 

Sangiovese, Chianti, and Brunello:

Cherry tomatoes, sage, and strawberry jam.

Oregon pinot noir and California pinot noir:

The cherries that come in a Shirley Temple and campfire. 


Grapefruit and a gin martini that’s so cold it actually tastes like nothing. 


Cranberry juice and oregano. 

Hermitage + Cornas + Syrah + Côte-Rôtie: 

Black pepper and lavender 

Chenin Blanc:

An unscented candle and lemon zest. Also, hay but not everyone has smelled hay before. 


Orange peel and mineral water that has enough flavor you notice it. It’s subtle. 


Biscuits and lemonade. 


This is the tennis balls wine. It’s true. Also, canned peaches.

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